Blunders and Blame: How Armed Non-State Actors React to Their Mistakes

Ioana Emy Matesan, Ronit Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Armed non-state actors make mistakes. Why this phenomenon occurs, and how organizations respond to their blunders, has remained understudied. This article draws on interdisciplinary research to examine sources of errors, and offers a public sensitivity argument to explain why groups claim and even apologize for their blunders. The quantitative analysis finds that all armed groups, regardless of ideology and organizational structure, are willing to apologize when there are unintended high casualty rates. A detailed analysis of three Provisional Irish Republican Army incidents reveals that public opinion is sensitive to the nature of the victims, and shows how public condemnation can impact organizational behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-398
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number5
Early online date11 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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